Everything You Wanted To Know About Lady Bird Lake
There are hidden pockets of natural beauty throughout Texas that offer a peaceful environment, exciting outdoor activities, and magical landscapes. Even though we might live right next to such beautiful landscapes, we often let them go unexplored, thanks to our routines and busy schedules.
However, we are here to show you the joy and wonder that can come from a visit to a nearby natural wonder and discuss how to make the most of your trip. We are sure you have heard of Lady Bird Lake, a beautiful oasis that sits on the outskirts of the city of Austin’s city limits, but have you ever taken the time to truly immerse yourself in its gorgeous scenery? Even if you’re an Austinite or Houston resident yourself, you may not have found this spot yet.
Keep reading for all of the information you need on how to turn your day trip to Lady Bird Lake into a restorative weekend getaway in the outdoors. Adventure and beauty are waiting for you, just a drive away.
Lady Bird Lake 101
Lady Bird Lake has acted as a refuge from Austin’s 300 days of sun for many years. In fact, the lake used to be called Town Lake but was renamed after First Lady Lady Bird Johnson because of her concentrated efforts to clean up the lake’s shoreline and beautify the surrounding area.
Lady Bird Lake is a part of the Colorado River that runs through downtown Austin and was created after the construction of the Longhorn Dam in 1960. The lake stretches for over 400 acres, so you won’t have trouble finding a space to cool off and explore.
Swimming and Lady Bird Lake
If you are an Austin local, you know there is no swimming allowed in the lake. Although dips in the water aren’t permitted due to water pollution, there are plenty of water activities that take you on a refreshing glide on top of the water, which gives you a unique perspective of the area.
Watercraft Rentals at Lady Bird Lake
If you visit the lake on a warm day, you’ll see the water populated with many canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, boats, and more. While some people have the ability and resources to bring their own watercraft, many people choose to rent theirs for the day.
Austin Rowing Club
This rowing club is located at the Waller Creek Boathouse, which has a charming cafe with beautiful views of Lady Bird Lake for a pre- or post-visit meal. If you are interested in rowing, you can enjoy the rowing club’s programs for both children and adults. However, if you want something simpler, they also offer kayak, canoe, and stand-up paddleboard rentals.
EpicSUP is conveniently located on the southeast shore of the lake, making renting and returning seamless. As the name suggests, you can rent stand-up paddleboards at this location, as well as kayaks.
The Expedition School
Also located on the shore of the lake, the northeast shore, the Expedition School offers rentals as well as paddling lessons and guided group paddling sessions. Here, you can rent paddle boards, kayaks, and canoes.
The rowing dock is situated on the southern shore of the lake, with an entrance through Zilker Park. Simple and reliable, this location offers kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards for rent.
Zilker Park Boat Rentals
Also located in Zilker Park is the aptly-named Zilker Park Boat rentals. You will have the chance to choose between many different styles of canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards for rent. Located on Barton Creek near the Barton Springs Pool, Zilker Park Boat Rentals provides on-site options ranging from large crafts to small one-person boats for solo trips.
Texas Rowing Center
You can find the Texas Rowing Center located just south of Austin High School. If you are looking for another spot for help with your rowing skills, this is it. They offer rowing programs and lessons for kids and adults, as well as kayak, canoe, and stand-up paddleboard rentals for visitors.
Hiking and Biking at Lady Bird Lake
One of the most popular hiking trails around the lake is the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail. Wear your favorite sneakers and athletic clothes during your visit, since the hike is over 10 miles. Although this may seem intimidating, it takes you on a walk around the entirety of the lake, which means an endless supply of beautiful views.
Try to schedule your hike so that it starts with the sunrise or ends with the sunset to watch the light shine across the top of the water.
The path is fortunately mostly flat and made of crushed granite, which means it is perfect for a leisurely bike ride at sunset.
At the end of 2014, a one-mile stretch of the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail was paved to create a water-side boardwalk for everyone to enjoy.
If you aren’t interested in completing the long hike but you still want to admire the gorgeous views that the landscape provides, a trip to the boardwalk will solve all your problems. Take a leisurely stroll down the one-mile stretch and soak in the views of the Austin skyline, seen down the center of the lake.
This area is best visited during sunset or sunrise since there is no sun coverage (not to mention golden light makes every scene look even more picturesque).
Austin is generally considered one of the most dog-friendly cities in the country, so you can expect Lady Bird Lake to also accommodate your four-legged family members. The Auditorium Shores Dog Park is located just next to the water on Riverside Drive and provides a space for your pup to run off-leash.
Although your dog might love to splash or play fetch in the water, it’s healthiest for them to stay out of the lake, which is why the dog park is safely fenced on the waterside to avoid any accidents.
If you prefer to pick water activities that don’t require any exercise and give you the opportunity to sip on a glass of wine while enjoying the views, a river cruise is just for you. There are a few different river cruise companies to choose from, but they all offer dinner and lunch cruises for both small and large groups.
Capital Cruises offers accommodations for groups between two and 100 people for dinner or sightseeing cruises. When booking your tour, you can choose between a variety of entertainment packages, including live music, casino packages, murder & mystery entertainers, and children’s entertainment.
The Lone Star Riverboat offers a guided tour that explores the beauty of the lake, Austin skyline, and surrounding greenery. You will sit atop the largest electric-powered paddle wheeler in the nation as you sip on a beverage you brought or something bought at the bar onboard.
Extending Your Getaway to Lady Bird Lake
After spending a day on Lady Bird Lake, you might crave a space even calmer and more immersive in nature. However, we understand the hesitation to pitch a tent and give up the comfortable features you have in your home.
That’s why Collective Retreats offers a unique outdoor resort experience that won’t make you choose between a comfortable stay and an outdoor getaway.
Accommodations Near Lady Bird Lake
Each lodging option at Collective Retreats is stocked with luxurious amenities and provides an indoor-outdoor living experience. In our Summit Tent, you won’t have to worry about losing a night of sleep to tossing and turning in a sleeping bag; instead, fall back on a king bed that is decorated with a cloud-like duvet and 1500 thread count linens.
Refresh yourself in the en suite bathroom that comes with a full-flush toilet, rain shower, and vanity setup. If you need to shave with an electric razor or use hair products, you can plug your tools in thanks to the tent’s electric hookup.
For the perfect start or end to the day, step out onto your private deck, located just outside your door, to look out over the expansive view of Hill Country in the morning or look up to count the stars at night.
More Activities Near Lady Bird Lake
As a Collective Retreats guest, you will have access to many activities designed to calm your mind and body and take advantage of the outdoor experiences offered in Hill Country.
Take a tour of the ranch on foot with our two trails on the ranch or, instead, explore the area during a horseback riding tour led by a local expert.
If you are in need of a mind and body refresh, take advantage of the many wellness activities available to you on our ranch. Start your morning with sunrise yoga, try a sound meditation session in the afternoon, and spend your evening receiving an in-tent massage.
To fuel yourself throughout your long day of adventuring and relaxation, Collective Retreats also offers a variety of gourmet culinary experiences throughout your stay, such as our Farm to Ranch breakfast, our Chef’s Tasting Menu, and our evening s’mores by the campfire.
Lady Bird Lake and More
Be sure to schedule an entire day for Lady Bird Lake exploration. Once you arrive and see people gliding on top of the lake in a canoe, kayak, or on a dinner cruise, you will want to try a little bit of everything.
And when you are spent from your day relaxing in the sun, continue your outdoor getaway with a stay at Collective Retreats. Here, you can experience exciting outdoor adventures and a peaceful place to lay your head at the end of the day in one restorative package.